Saturday, when I was walking my dogs, I met a young man named John working in my friend Kathy’s yard. John, a horticulturist who graduated from West Virginia University last year, works for an upscale nursery tending Georgetown residences during the week, and free lances on the weekends to make ends meet.
Because David and I both suffer from infirmities of one kind or another, and cannot do as much heavy yard work as we once did, I asked John to come by and see me after he left Kathy’s place. He showed up a little while later, and we walked around my small yard filled with specimen plants, talking and discussing gardening.
I had a delightful time, and I think John did too. Although he knew the names of many plants, he did not know them all, and being an eager learner, he asked me many questions. He also complimented me on the landscaping I did over many years..an organic undertaking…as well as the health of the various plants. He admired the rain barrels and the rain garden where the Choke Cherry is in bloom. He approved of the dead holly left for the woodpeckers. He admired the Creeping Woodruff and gushed over my Helleborus, while telling me about a professor who had them “planted all over a hill…but not as big and healthy as yours.”
I am not a professional like John, and I was impressed with his eagerness to learn from an old experienced gardener like me. If you are young, the surest way to get on in the world is to take time to talk with older folks who have many life experiences to share. I appreciate this quality in my own granddaughters and my grandsons when I see them. And I feel it is a most pleasing thing to discover this characteristic in any young person. I, after all, learned much from my own grandparents, and parents too. Knowledge passed along is a wonderful thing and will beat anything you can find in a book.
The mild winter and the early spring with much rain have produced a bumper crop of our favorite shrubs. Pieris Japonica, Azaleas, Rhododendron, Quince, and other shrubs are in full bloom around the neighborhood, and beautiful enough to rival those found in Wilmington NC, Augusta GA, and other fine spring habitats on the East Coast. Spring is our most beautiful season in the South. The hot summer will send many of our spring plants into hibernation but come fall we will have a resurgence of some flowers. However, the big show comes but once per year.
Horticulture is the science, technology, and business involved in intensive plant cultivation for human use. It is practiced from the individual level in a garden up to the activities of a multinational corporation. It is very diverse in its activities, incorporating plants for food (fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, culinary herbs) and non-food crops (flowers, trees and shrubs, turf-grass, hops, medicinal herbs). It also includes related services in plant conservation, landscape restoration, landscape and garden design/construction/maintenance, horticultural therapy, and much more. This range of food, medicinal, environmental, and social products and services are all fundamental to developing and maintaining human health and well-being.